The third book in Lankford’s religious thriller series presents a fresh view of Mexican–American tensions.
The enigmatic Maggie Johnson mourns the loss of her 10-year-old son, who was the clone of Jesus of Nazareth. Her grief is palpable when she asks, “How could flowers still exist? How could the sun?” Yet life does go on in spite of her grief, and Maggie prepares for the birth of another child and her marriage to the father, Sam Duffy, whom she despises. On the other side of the coin is Coral Anders, a prostitute temporarily unemployed after the death of her boss. Former butler Luis Tepiltzin Moctezuma rises to power, inheriting a fortune. He offers Coral enough money to secure her future if she helps him kidnap Maggie’s baby as part of his “la reconquista” plan to reclaim American land for Mexico and avenge the deaths of his family members who died trying to cross the border illegally. While there is enough back story for the novel to stand alone, reading it without having read the previous two titles in The Jesus Thief series (The Secret Madonna, 2008, etc.) is like showing up to the party late. Characters are strung out and emotionally stressed as they plod along regretting the mistakes of their past. Sad Sam, the object of desire in a love triangle, seems more an empty plot device than a ladies’ man. His best scenes happen in memories, which depict a man who is not recognizable here. The most interesting character is the villainous Luis, who is fresh with his questionable plans. Through him, Lankford tells an often-ignored history of Mexican heritage and presents a new angle to the underside of illegal immigration.
This latest chapter of an experimental story comments on Mexican immigration and the power of faith and is better read as part of the series.